Wandering more than ever

We now have seven weeks off from WWOOFing! With just one host left to visit we are almost finished with the WWOOFing part of our journey.

When we waved goodbye to Daisy Cottage we headed across from the west coast to the east coast of Scotland, stopping overnight for our first taste of wild camping at Loch Ness. We literally pulled into a layby on the roadside, put down the levellers on Willow and that was us home for the night! We had a full on panoramic view of Loch Ness with the sun going down, rainbows across the skies (typical sunshine and showers weather) and then a beautiful moon rising over the loch casting reflections and shadows over the rippling water. We sat and admired the view, sung some songs and toasted the next exciting chapter of our adventure.

the view from Willow

We’ve been to Loch Ness before, last summer, and fell in love with it there then. We went out on the actual loch in a boat that time and it is such a magical, atmospheric place you can feel the mystery and intrigue in the air. Despite spending lots of time gazing out of Willow’s window we didn’t see Nessie this time!

Then followed a fabulous week camping with two sets of very good friends. Dragon celebrated his 11th birthday, we saw dolphins, seals and other sealife daily, the children all played on the beach flying kites, got wet most days in the sea, did some fishing and us adults enjoyed each others company in rather less energetic pursuits. We ate haggis, drank whisky, gorged on tablet and had a very memorable evening sitting on the beach round a fire toasting marshmallows and gazing at the stars.

Yesterday morning we waved goodbye to our friends, returning to ‘normal lives’ and we headed further north. We have a touring map of Scotland, a fistful of tourist information leaflets, a list of ‘things we’d like to see’ and a very small daily budget – and no particular place to be for the next six weeks!

Our loose plan is to head towards John O Groats by the end of this week, a distance of just over 100 miles. From there we will go all the way along the very north coast over the course of the following week and then travel down the west coast over the following weeks before heading over to the Isle of Eigg by ferry for our final host at the end of October. We’ll keep that plan pretty fluid so if we get distracted by shiny things or the wind picks us up and blows us in a certain direction it may well change!

Yesterday we got as far as Bonar Bridge, going via Tarbat Discovery Centre where we all increased our local knowledge and learnt about Picts and early Scottish history, marvelled at the crypt and enjoyed a film about archaeological discoveries. It felt like a welcome return to Home Education for Dragon, Star and I who used to spend all our days chasing interesting conversations and finding hands on ways to learn. We’ve very much missed our previous freedom to find ourselves in an interesting place with questions to find answers to and are looking forward to plenty more such opportunities over the next few weeks. Our ‘home’ for the night was a layby overlooking a loch on one side and a large area of woodland on the other.

Today we were on a quest to find the salmon – at this time of year the wild Atlantic salmon are returning to the rivers they were born in to spawn, which involves leaping upstream. It’s a dramatic and death-defying journey that few manage to make and as with all wild animal spotting you are very much relying on all sorts of factors, mostly luck! First on our list of likely places was the Falls of Shin, which has a visitor centre including an exhibition of information about the salmon. After a quick look around that we headed down to the waterfalls and were the only people there. Amazingly within just a couple of minutes Ady was yelling that he had seen one, closely followed by the rest of us! We struggled to get any half decent pictures (our camera is really not up to wildlife action shots!) but the memories will last a lifetime.

that black dot is a salmon!

at the Falls of Shin

We had lunch in the carpark (hurrah for our mobile kitchen!) and then followed some brown signs to the Ferrycroft Visitor Centre. What an excellent – and *free* place this was! We had a great couple of hours there learning loads, participating in all the interactive and hands on exhibits, learning about wildlife, history and more. Dragon and Star loved playing in the grounds too and reading all the information boards about local wildlife and farmed animals.

We drove through some beautiful, very ‘Scottish’ landscapes with heather, pines, highland cattle and sheep and soaring buzzards in some very blue skies. We ended up stopping for the night overlooking the sea again with a fantastic view of a very beautiful sunset tonight.

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